Thursday, August 1, 2013

Happy Birthday, Verity!

First off, I apologize for the misspelling of "magnificence". I can't even blame American spelling for that one. As I told everyone, unfortunately my sketchbook doesn't come with a spellcheck.
My birthday cartoons have been getting later and later no matter how much advance planning I put into them. Poor Verity had to wait several weeks for this one and Fiz several months!
Sorry, Fiz.
Yeah, so I took the opportunity to blame

it on the wombat.

(So if your birthday goes by without a cartoon, rest assured that in a decade from now you'll unexpectedly get a message on whatever social media is in vogue at the time: "Hey, sorry this cartoon was late for your birthday ten years ago, but here it is, lol!")

We've already established that Dante Gabriel Rossetti was an animal-lover and kept a
menagerie of exotic animals at his home at Cheyne Walk. Unfortunately, he never really knew how to care for them properly and was somewhat hurt when they unexpectedly expired. This cartoon is based on a (somewhat) true story that Verity Holloway related to us.

Verity is a Rossetti devotee and an authority on all things Rossettian. So you can imagine what it must have been like for her to see a lock of Rossetti's actual hair! I'll let her elaborate more from this email she sent me entitled Hairball:

It was at Literary Circles in 2007 when I was an undergrad: I think I'd just started my dissertation (partly on Lizzie Siddal) and was in full Serious Note-Taking Mode. I didn't know the hair was going to be there, or even that it existed, so it was a shock to see this dark coil in a folded bit of paper and to belatedly realise it came from Rossetti's head. And then to even more belatedly realise you're staring at a dead man's hair with a massive grin on your face like someone with a bit of a problem. And then to realise you'd quite like to touch it.
They also had Keats' hair, but who cares?
 :-D I like it that it's of the utmost importance to DGR that he pleases some blonde he's never met.

It's just occurred to me…what would happen if someone excavated his garden? Can you image all the weird animal bones? The horror.
"Keats' hair too? Gasp!" ---Me.
The exhibition was probably the best I've ever been to! They just had everyone I love - Rossetti, Blake, Sassoon, The Brontes: just all of it! And there were Lizzie Siddal's paintings, too. I went to an evening talk there by Lucinda Hawksley, and before the talk you were allowed to view the exhibition semi-privately. I was standing in front of a chalk drawing of Fanny by DGR, and he'd run out of space so just glued another piece of paper on and carried on over the join! I could just hear him thinking, "Oh Hell. Nobody'll notice."

Thanks again for the story, Verity.
(I would love to touch Keats' hair...)
Reading about the exhibition, I would have absolutely loved to have seen it. It's completely up my alley. "...text and image intersected, reinforcing one another, but also competing for pre-eminence... Focusing on illustration, fantasy and caricature": Pre-Raphaelites, Richard Dadd, William Blake, Max Beerbohm and dead guys' hair in boxes all in one place?

Damn. I would definitely have flown out there.

Here's hoping a raccoon shows up on your door someday with a curl of thick, glossy, chestnut Italian hair in its mouth, Verity.

Coming up next: Ned likes mermaids.



  1. What a great story! Thanks to you and Verity for sharing it. And of course the birthday cartoons are both a delight. Though I'm particularly giggling at impulsive Gabriel shearing himself and then belatedly considering the possible consequences.